Landlords of Nags Head pub in Eastrea vow to keep it open

OWNERS of a struggling remote village pub have vowed to do everything they can to keep it open.

David Lepla and John Harris applied to convert The Nags Head in Eastrea and turn it into two two-bedroom flats after it lost �20,000 in two years and build a further two homes on the site.

But when Fenland District Council ruled that being in the red “is not a reason to allow the conversion of a pub” following a campaign against its closure, the owners resolved to continue their fight to make the venue profitable.

Mr Lepla said: “Deep down, we want to keep the pub open.”

But after he and his business partner revealed that on some occasions the pub takes just �22 in 12 hours, Mr Lepla warned: “We cannot continue to throw good money after bad.”

Mr Lepla and Mr Harris bought The Nags Head in 2007 after stepping in to save the pub after being closed for a substantial time.

Due to pressure from villagers it re-opened following a �40,000 refurbishment; the pub still failed to get sufficient customers through the door.

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On an average Saturday, Mr Lepla and Mr Harris say the venue takes just �600 despite paying out for entertainment.

They saw the conversion of the pub as the only option.

However, a report by the council rejected the idea and said: “Rural pubs are not simply businesses. They can be vital community resources and key tourism assets.”

In a campaign letter, customer Claire Hammond said: “This pub is the beating heart of the community. If this disappears it will be a devastating loss.”

Mr Lepla and Mr Harris agreed to put their reservations to one side and work with Ms Hammond’s Save Our Pub committee to increase profits.

They have held entertainment and several community events and have organised a two-day beer festival which starts next Friday.

If income does not improve, Mr Lepla and Mr Harris plan to find another buyer to keep it going.